Homemade 5-Minute Powder Laundry Soap

No seriously, this powder laundry soap takes only 5 minutes to make! So easy and so awesome!

Today was going to be a shaving cream day, but after a good cup of coffee, a few minutes in the carline, and a quiet drive home, I had a lightbulb ingredient moment. This means I scratched my plans to share my homemade shaving cream recipe, just for today. I promise, it will be up next week, but I think this one ingredient could be an awesome addition. One more week!

In the meantime, let’s turn our attention to laundry. Because just like coffee and quiet drives, laundry solves all problems. Or wait, maybe laundry creates all problems? That was the case in our home before I finally created a laundry routine that worked for me. And to be honest, I’ve been slacking on my routine this week.

Before I go way too far off topic, let’s chat about laundry soap.

No seriously, this powder laundry soap takes only 5 minutes to make! So easy and so awesome!

I shared my first ever laundry post on Live Simply back on February 11, 2014. Now that really dates this blog. That’s two whole years ago, which in human years means that first laundry post is now a toddler. But when it comes to blog years (which work the same way as dog years, I believe), that laundry post is a teenager. And if we take this a step further, that’s REALLY REALLY old for a blogpost.

In that two year span of time, hundreds and thousands of people have said “good-bye” to the Tide once and for all (just like I did), and found a new love called, Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap. Today, two years later, I’d like to expand your (laundry) soap-making vocabulary and skills to include a powder laundry soap. But not just any powder soap. Oh no! We’re going to keep this one incredibly simple. In fact, the entire process, from start to finish, only takes about five minutes. Seriously, five whole minutes!

No seriously, this powder laundry soap takes only 5 minutes to make! So easy and so awesome!

To add to the tell-all nature of today’s post ;), I think it’s important to point out that I’ve never been a powder laundry soap kind of gal. I never had anything against powder laundry soap; it’s just that my mother only used liquid laundry soap, and so, as a result, I decided liquid soap was the route to go.

Because I had a deep love for a certain kind of not-so-natural liquid laundry detergent, I created my infamous liquid laundry soap a fews years into our real food journey, and instantly fell in love. I never once gave a passing thought to the idea of making a powder soap. Plus, there are only a bazillion powder laundry soap recipes on Pinterest.

No seriously, this powder laundry soap takes only 5 minutes to make! So easy and so awesome!

That all changed last year.

I’m not exactly sure what was happening in our life at the time, but I do know that we were going through a busy season. At some point during that busy season, I ran out of my homemade liquid laundry soap. Now, this may surprise some people, but I decided in that moment of busyness to purchase a “more natural” store-bought soap.

Remember my “What to Buy vs. Make” chart? Number three on that chart asks, “What’s the time difference?” At that time, the time difference between making laundry soap and purchasing it from the store was large enough that store-bought won. Dear Mom, please don’t feel like you must make EVERYTHING! There are times when you’ll make homemade mayo, and other times when a cleaner store-bought option is best. There are times when you’ll make laundry soap, and other times when you just need to get to bed at 10pm and purchase soap at the store during your next shopping trip. It’s okay!

No seriously, this powder laundry soap takes only 5 minutes to make! So easy and so awesome!

After purchasing laundry soap for a couple of months, I felt the “itch” to get back to making homemade laundry soap again. Our schedule also slowed down to a normal pace. During this time I also had a few requests from readers for a powder soap, so I decided to use the same ingredients from my liquid soap (castile soap, borax, and washing soda) to create a powder version. And now for the words that I never thought I would say: I loved the powder laundry soap! Big puffy heart love! (Just imagine a big heart emoji there <—)

And now, my friend, without any further ado, let’s talk about this powder laundry soap, and the simple ingredients and recipe that won my heart.

No seriously, this powder laundry soap takes only 5 minutes to make! So easy and so awesome!

Castile Soap (Bars): Castile soap is a concentrated vegetable-based soap made of ingredients you can actually pronounce. This soap is gentle on the skin and effective in the fight against dirt, grease, and unwanted germs. Dr. Bronner’s is a very a popular brand of castile soap. For this recipe, we’re going to use the bar (dry) form of castile soap versus the liquid. The bars and liquid are sold in Target, health food stores, online stores (like Amazon), and even conventional grocery stores.

Washing Soda: Washing soda, also known as sodium carbonate and sold under the Arm & Hammer brand, is highly alkaline which makes it a great cleaner! The high alkaline level allows washing soda to act as a solvent. Washing soda can also be used to fight against hard water, since the washing soda binds to the minerals, which in turn can boost laundry soap’s effectiveness. Washing soda can be found in the laundry section of most grocery stores, or made at home in the oven.

Borax: This white powder, sodium borate, is a natural mineral used in many cleaning recipes. Over the years, some people have expressed concerns that borax isn’t a safe homemade cleaner. I take just the opposite view, especially when you compare super effective borax to most of the main-stream cleaners on the market.

While I feel safe using Borax in my cleaning recipes, I take care to avoid inhaling this ingredient (as you’ll see in this recipe) and keep it away from little hands that may choose to taste-test some of the white powder. The product receives an F according to the EWG for respiration concerns (don’t purposely sniff inside a box of Borax!). I believe this article from Wellness Mama offers valid points to why we shouldn’t throw the Borax out with the box.

Homemade 5-Minute Powder Laundry Soap
5 from 1 vote
Print

Homemade 5-Minute Powder Laundry Soap

Author Kristin Marr

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Cut the castile soap bars into small slices or chunks. This step is important to avoid ruining your food processor.
  2. Place the castile soap slices or chunks in a food processor bowl. Pulse the soap on high until the soap resembles large crumbs. Add the washing soda to the food processor. Place a towel over the top of the food processor lid, and pulse for 1 minute. After pulsing, the ingredients should be well combined. If you don’t have a food processor use a cheese grater, and then mix the ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Pour the washing soda and castile soap into a storage container, and stir in the borax. Add the essential oils, if using.

Recipe Notes

To Use: For top-loaders, use ⅛ cup. For front-loaders, use 1 tablespoon. This soap works best in warm or hot water.

The “where to buy” links provide links to the actual products I use. As always, I recommend shopping around online and at local stores for the best prices and products you love. Adapted from my book, DIY Natural Cleaning Challenge.

Borax Note: As noted above, I feel safe using borax in my laundry soap. If you’d prefer not to use this ingredient, try subbing out the borax with 2 cups of washing soda. I can’t guarantee the effectiveness of this recipe once the swap has been made, but it’s worth the shot if you have strong feelings against borax.

No seriously, this powder laundry soap takes only 5 minutes to make! So easy and so awesome!

Share This Recipe

If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #LIVESIMPLYBLOG. I'd love to see what you make!



My Free Crash Courses

Free Real Food Crash CourseFree DIY Natural Cleaning Crash Course

Subscribe to download the Courses





PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.


More from Kristin Marr

March: My Favorite Things (Natural Body-Care, Real Food, Exercise, Essential Oils)

I promised last month to keep the introductions to the favorite posts very...
Read More

77 Comments

    • Hey Vicki, I have a top-loader, but from our test group for the book, a few people tested this out in a front-loader and were happy with the results. The soap amount is greatly reduced for the front-loader machine.

  • Thank you for the printer friendly version. . Also, thank you for actually doing research and testing. I appreciate facts backed by the science and I am on board with a blog that posts their research sources.

    • Hey Sandy, I’m not 100% sure about soap flakes as a replacement. If they are anything like castile soap (a concentrated plant-based soap), I think they will work.

      I’ve found the washing soda really needs warm or hot water to fully dissolve in the wash. When I’ve used cold water, the results have been mixed. Sometimes a powder is left behind on some clothes, which I believe is caused by the washing soda (not fully dissolving) and cold water (based on other experiments with washing soda in my kitchen). My liquid laundry soap works very well in cold water: http://livesimply.me/2014/02/11/homemade-liquid-laundry-soap-all-natural-detergent/.

  • hi! I’ve enjoyed reading several of your posts and recipes today. I’ve been using my homemade laundry powder for a year but have found that it doesn’t whiten whites very well. does your recipe brighten? my sister noticed when she started making my recipe, and living on a farm I have come to accept whites not being as bright as (your preciously favorite chemical “T”-word addiction).:/ but of COURSE, I would prefer whiter whites, too!

  • I, too, make my own laundry detergent, and I recently switched from liquid to powder. I don’t use Borax in mine, since it really is best in hot water, which I don’t use often, but instead add just a little, as in a teaspoon or so, Rid-X septic tank treatment (the powder kind). The enzymes seem to help lift some of those tougher stains. I also make my own 100% coconut soap specifically for use in laundry, because it is so cleansing. I find I get better results if I grate the soap first, rather than use the food processor. I then put everything in the food processor at once. I put in a few drops of eucalyptus and lavender to deter bedbugs and dust mites and make everything smell fresh. It is really awesome soap, rinses clean, and gets most of the grubby stains out of our clothes. If I need to pre-treat, I confess to using Dawn dish soap (the blue kind), water, and ammonia in equal amounts. Probably not the most environmentally friendly concoction, but I am dealing with serious ground in dirt and grease sometimes, as I have a 13 year old boy and a husband who works in construction and on machinery. I haven’t found anything else that works except Goo-gone, which I no longer use. I actually think the powder does a better job than the liquid!

  • This sounds great I too have moved from making liquid laundry soap. One day I ran out got too busy and just added in borax, washing soda, and a few drops of sal suds. Now I just add the two powders a cup each together in a glass jar and use 1/4C to my laundry. With the few drops of sal suds works better then any store brand.

    • Hey Heather, We have very hard water. The washing soda in this recipe helps to soften the water. You could also add 1-2 cups of kosher salt to the recipe–I’ve done that in the past with good success. The salt also helps to soften the water.

  • My husband is a mechanic. Does anyone have any ideas if this or something else will work? I can’t seem to find an alternative to Tide which I want him to stop using. Sigh….

  • I just found your site and LOVE it, so amazing. I have a HE front load washing machine, with this soap should I put it in the detergent spot or place a scoop of it in the drum of the machine. I have only ever used liquid in my front loader so i am not sure where the powder kind would go.

    Thanks!

  • I’ve been making my own laundry soap with these ingredients for about 3 yrs now. I just made my 3rd batch using 1 box borax, 1 box washing soda, and 2 bars castile soap and I use a tablespoon per load. The last batch I made in September 2013 so it lasts a long time! I have used this recipe in a top loader, front loader, and at the laundry mat (just this morning!) and have had no problems. I cannot believe I used to pay soooooo much for laundry soap. 🙂

  • Hi ladies, awesome information. I am trying to find a good natural laundry soap. I have tried Norwex but it is a bit spendy. Is their any difference in the results between your liquid gel soap and your powder soap? Just trying to decide which to try. We are on a septic tank and I see someone had issues with this – not sure if it would be worse than mainstream detergents to be honest so am willing to give it a whirl 🙂

    • Hey Liz, The biggest difference between the dry powder and liquid soap is the way they are used. The dry powder really needs to be used in hot/warm water, and the liquid soap may be used in cold water. The powder soap also has a longer shelf life, since water isn’t involved the process (water can/will breed bacteria over time). Other than those things, it’s just a matter of personal preference.

  • Hi Kristin
    Looking to make this laundry powder but concerned about using my blender to mix up the ingredients. I don’t have a food processor – just a Vitamix – will this be ok ? Also concerned that it will wash properly afterwards as I will need to use for food afterwards. Is this recommend ?

    • Hey Jane, My only concern with using a blender is with the soap getting stuck at the bottom of the blender. I recommend grating the soap with a cheese grater, and then mixing the ingredients by hand.

  • I want to start by saying I LOVE your blog and routinely incorporate your diy recipes in my daily life with personal care and cleaning.

    I loved your liquid laundry soap but thought I’d give this one a try for a longer shelf life. Do you know which of the two recipes are better for your washing machine as I’ve read mixed reviews regarding borax and castile soap in regards to build up in the piping?

    • Hey Megan, Thank you! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog, and the recipes. I’ve found that both have been fine with our pipes. I use warm/hot water with the powder, so I think that may help keep the pipes from clogging. Since the liquid dissolves the castile and borax ahead of time, cold water is fine. Washing soda can also be a big issue with hardening in cold water, so that’s another reason to use warm/hot water.

  • Hi Kristin, I am anxious to try the recipe. Are the amounts critical? I’d like to try with a half-batch first, just to make sure it works okay with our machine, water & the hubbs. Thanks!

  • Just found your blog and I love it! I was wondering what your thoughts are on the Castile bars vs. Fels naphtha. I have been making my own laundry powder with washing powder and borax for several years, except I have been using fels naphtha bars. Need to make more soon and I’m trying to decide if I should try the Castile. Thanks for your thoughts!

    • Hey Amanda, I’m not very familiar with the ingredients used to make fels naphtha bars, but I am very comfortable with castile soap. Castile soap is definitely what I recommend.


  • I absolutely love the dry laundry soap recipe! I have tried it with the washing soda and it just doesn’t get as clean. I used the lavender essential oil and it smells wonderful.

    I have a front load washer and only use 1 TT for regular loads and 1 1/2T for larger or more soiled loads.

  • Kristin,

    I told you I would let you know how my half-batch turned out. The only word I can use to describe it is “smooth”. It really is a brilliant plan, you know. It’s not that much less expensive than my Biokleen but the laundry just looked & felt nicer. And there were no white flecks on the clothes even though I let the washer swish the detergent about the same amount of time before putting my clothes in.

    This recipe is a definite winner & you were absolutely right, 5 minutes & I was done!

    Thanks a million!

  • I made my own laundry detergent several years ago and used it for many years (using fels naphtha instead of castile bars). I have a front loader and during that time, I began to notice a strange smell to my laundry, especially the towels and they all became very, very dingy. Even after using store-bought detergent for the last several years I can not get the smell or color fixed. I rarely, if ever, left the clothes wet in the washer and never let wet items sit in the laundry hamper so I know this is not the problem. I have used vinegar, peroxide, essential oils, etc… to no avail. Has anyone else had these similar issues? I do not want to try the homemade route again with the same results!

    • Hey Penny, I would definitely try the castile bars. I’ve found they clean much better than the fels naphtha bars, and they lend a lovely scent to laundry. Another suggestion is to try washing the clothes in hot water and borax to eliminate the current odors.

  • Hey Kristen!
    I was curious: I have cloth diapers and am hoping to use a homemade powder detergent on them. I have read (but not experienced) that bar soaps (castile) aren’t ideal for cloth diapering. Have you had experience using this “recipe” on cloth diapers, or do you know someone who has?

      • Sounds good. I had already purchased what I needed to make this recipe – and I am so tempted to just try it on my diapers – but don’t want to risk the adverse affects. bah… what to do 🙂 I can say that peppermint essential oil smells amazing when I open my tin!
        Thanks for the quick reply. I follow your blog, and have made the loose powder (make up) and love it! I often suggest friends to check out your diy’s etc. if they are interested in natural and cost-effective alternatives! Cheers!!

    • Hey Conny, Borax is the name brand in the States, so you might be able to find it by its scientific name: sodium borate, sodium tetraborate or disodium tetraborate. If not, adding extra washing soda will work, but it won’t provide the same cleaning power.

  • Hi!
    I made the powder detergent, it was easy and fast to make! I really want to add the cleaning oil. I bought some the brand is (Tisserand) it also says aromatherapy. I don’t know if by me adding these essential oils, will affect the detergent. Should I buy an essential oil that is for cleaning? Or can I add the ones I have?

    Please help!
    Thanks!

    • Hey Sandy, I’m so glad the recipe was easy and fast for you! Yep, any essential oil you currently own will work. Some oils are known for having properties that complement a cleaning solution, like lemon or tea tree essential oil. But any essential oil should work, especially if it’s added for scent.

  • Great blog! I have been using this recipe for a month. Howeve . I use 1\2 a cup per large load. My question is this really doesn’t suds up. Does anyone complain about this?

    • Hey Lana, I’m so glad you’re enjoying the soap. Yes, this laundry soap doesn’t suds up like commerical laundry detergents. Most detergents add special chemicals to create the suds.

  • Is there any reason why you could not mix the powdered laundry detergent with hot water prior to adding it to the wash? That way, the solids could dissolve, but you could still wash with cold water?

  • Hi Kristin, this recipe is great as it removes odors. However, I am experiencing white sweat stains on dark color t-shirts after the laundry is done. Any ideas on how to remove these sweat stains? I love your blog.
    Thank you!

    • Hey Cece, I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog! I wonder if the powder isn’t fully getting dissolved in the water? I might try mixing the powder (the amount being used in the wash) with a bit of hot water first (in a cup will work), and see if that resolves the issue. If the stains remain, then it might be another issue…do you have hard water? Adding a softener might help? Let me know how it goes, and we’ll keep troubleshooting!

  • I make mine similarly. One bar of Fels Naphtha, one cup Borax, one cup washing soda. I’m just curious why you like the castile soap over the FN? I might try doubling my washing soda as in your recipe. Thank you for sharing, and I’m sorry if someone already asked this question. 🙂 Heidi

    • Hey Heidi, I think castile soap does a better job at cleaning, and it’s made with “cleaner” ingredients. 🙂 I haven’t researched Fels Naphtha in a while, so that may have changed.

  • Hi Kristen, today while searching for great simple powder laundry soap, I found your website. I was so excited immediately, I found myself at my neighborhood store gathering the necessary ingredients to complete my new venture. Follow all the simple instructions and was finish within 10 minutes.(minus the use of a food processor) I actually used an old blender that was on its way to the Salvation Army. I also substituted the castile soap with Rose instead of your recommended choices. Now to say the lease everything went as expected. No studs, the smells was Awesome. Until the wash cycle was complete. The cloths only had slight freshness to them and about 1/2tsp of detergent was still sitting in the soap dispenser. Can you maybe help determine what could have went wrong? or if anyone else had this problem. By the way I have water purification system for the whole house. Thanks for the You tube video

    • Hey Christie, We just purchased a new washing machine and I’ve noticed that the same thing happens in the laundry soap “drawer.” I’ve been mixing the solution with just a tad bit of water before adding it to the drawer. I may even try placing the soap actually in the washer with the clothes. For some reason any powder is an issue for us. Hope that helps!

  • Hi Kristin,
    I never use warm/hot water for washing clothes. Is the soap still effective? I’ve been using liquid soap nuts, which I like, but it’s on the pricey side. Thoughts?

    Thanks!

    • Hey Tamara, I’ve found that a powder soap, like this, really needs warmer water to fully dissolve. You could try colder water and see what you think. My liquid soap works well, in my opinion, with cold water.

  • Hi! I stumbled across your blog and can’t seem to get off of it! Hoping to try this laundry soap soon. Quick question, do you use a fabric softener at all? I currently use a store bought detergent, along with store bought softener.

  • Hi! I just tried this at the weekend with homemade bars of Castile (olive oil) soap- it worked well, although next time I might add more essential oil scent as it’s very faint. I had to grate the soap as I don’t have a food processor, but I wash at 40 degrees C and it all dissolved. Just thought if anyone wanted to know if it works with homemade soap- it does!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *